One of the most fascinating things about working in healthcare is that no two days are the same. As you come to work each day, you never quite know what’s going to be thrown at you. Never was this truer than last week, which brought with it some big challenges alongside some really fantastic achievements.
Firstly, we achieved a fantastic milestone with the smooth transition of our Operating Theatres, Theatre Admission and Discharge Unit, Post Anaesthetic Care Unit, Central Sterile Supply Department and Neonatal Care into the new Harley Gray Building. This move marked the end of a capital development programme which has seen half a billion dollars invested in order to improve CM Health’s hospital facilities. Without a doubt, Middlemore Hospital is now a truly 21st century hospital delivering 21st century quality healthcare. I’m amazed when I think about how much this site has been transformed, even in the eight years I’ve been with the organization. Middlemore is almost unrecognizable. It really has been great to realize our dream by seeing these services operating in their new, state-of-the-art home.
At the very time we were acknowledging that achievement, we have had to deal with the intense media coverage of some aspects of our Maternity Services. I’d like to thank our Director of Strategic Development, Margie Apa, and our External Communications Manager, Lauren Young, for their hard work and presence of mind when we were in the full glare of the media. Their efforts helped turn the story from sensationalist, tabloid headlines to a more reasoned and balanced discussion about how to deliver services to vulnerable women in a culturally appropriate way. If you haven’t already done so, I’d invite you to read Margie’s blog on the issue.
Leaving aside the specific details of the coverage, I also want to make note of the Perinatal Mortality Committee which commended CM Health for giving women, who have previously not been heard, a voice on this important issue. We don’t always get things right and undoubtedly we have a lot to learn but the first step towards improvement is acknowledging that there’s a problem. By empowering these women to contribute to the wider Maternity Services review, we have taken that first courageous step of listening and learning so that we may look ahead at what we can do differently.
In other news last week, we were delighted to learn of the appointment of our Head of General Surgery, Andrew Connolly, to the role of Chairperson of the New Zealand Medical Council. This is a thoroughly well deserved appointment – congratulations Andrew. It recognizes both your leadership and your unwavering commitment to professional practice, and it is also a huge honour for us here at CM Health.
Meanwhile, the day-to-day work of CM Health has continued throughout the week. Last week we welcomed delegates from both Oman and Singapore to learn about our approach towards improving services and transforming care. At the same time, I met with a team from Victoria, Australia who were visiting our Minister of Health to share details of their community action programme designed to promote healthy lifestyles and address obesity. The Australians were really interested to hear about our successes and learnings in this area through our past programmes such as Let’s Beat Diabetes.
Ko Awatea has been busy too, hosting Professor Su Maddock, an international expert in Mental Health, who presented a lunchtime learning session entitled Mental Health Innovation in the UK. And soon Ko Awatea will also have a visit from John Ovretveit, one of the world’s leading experts in healthcare quality, who is coming to share his ideas in two workshops (which are free for CM Health staff) and hear more about our improvement work. Part of the thinking behind Ko Awatea was to create a space where the best people internationally could come and meet the best people locally to spark ideas and solutions. When I see a calendar of events featuring guests of this calibre, I’m thrilled to know that the Centre is realizing this vision.
Finally, ‘the week that was’ was topped off with a few events. On Friday I was honoured to attend our building naming ceremony, which paid tribute to the great men and women who have helped make Middlemore Hospital what it is today and whose names now grace the buildings on this site. It was inspiring to hear stories of the past and to share some special memories of people who have played such an important role in our history. I’m delighted that their legacy will live on in our buildings.
Last week I also attended the launch of the new Smokefree Quit Bus at Manurewa Marae. This new regional service, which we are delivering in partnership with Comprehensive Care (in association with Waitemata PHO) and Transitioning Out Aotearoa, will deliver Smokefree support in the suburbs of greater Auckland through two mobile buses. It has already proven to be really successful at encouraging people to become Smokefree, with over 500 people engaging with the service so far. In the last six years, smoking rates in Counties Manukau have dropped from 22% to less than 16%. For Maaori, they have dropped from 47% to 36%. We are making great progress towards achieving Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 and it was really heartening to attend the launch of a new service which will further support this aim.
As you can see, it was quite a week! Yet in many ways, ‘the week that was’ simply reflects the vibrant, busy and productive organization that is CM Health. As all of this has been going on, we have also been getting on with delivering high quality care to our patients on a daily basis. According to data gathered in the last financial year, everyday in Counties Manukau approximately:
Even when we have tough days, I never cease to be inspired by all that we achieve and the innovative, professional and hard-working culture of Team Counties. Even with world-class facilities, a Centre for Innovation and new mobile buses, it is our people who are our greatest asset.